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Sustainability: McDonald

McDonald's is participating with leading animal welfare scientists, academics, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and egg suppliers in a study of housing alternatives for egg-laying hens in the U.S., including cage-free housing. The study, which expects to involve tens of thousands of hens, will look at the sustainability impacts of different laying hen housing environments on animal health and well-being, safe and affordable food, the environment and worker welfare. The eggs produced during this study are expected to be used in McDonald's U.S. restaurants, provided they meet stringent food safety and quality standards.

The goal of the study is to understand the viability of alternate housing systems in the U.S., including cage-free and "enriched housing," which includes nests and perches, as well as the housing environments used by McDonald's current supply system in the U.S., which adheres to McDonald's strict Laying Hen standards. Another goal is to provide scientific-based research that will assist McDonald's and other companies in making more informed decisions on sustainable egg purchases, taking into account their independent company values and business needs.
 
"This is a welcome initiative for egg purchasers like McDonald's who want to consider all of the sustainability impacts when it comes to buying eggs - not just animal welfare, but environmental, food safety and economic factors," said Dan Gorsky, McDonald's senior vice president, North America Supply Chain Management. "It is our intention for eggs produced as part of this study, including cage-free eggs, to partially supply McDonald's USA by 2011."

"There's a very compelling need for a study of this scope," said Marie Wheatley, president and ceo, American Humane Association, which also is participating in the study. "While scientists indicate there are benefits for laying hen birds to be able to demonstrate more natural behaviors associated with a cage-free environment, there are open questions on other animal welfare matters such as feather pecking and mortality rates."

"Globally, McDonald's supports cage and cage-free housing as long as they meet our animal welfare guiding principles," said Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility. "And, with the coalition's research, we will have science-based egg sustainability facts to guide our decisions towards promoting continuous improvement in these important areas."

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